Structural and functional alterations of cyanobacterial phycobilisomes induced by high-light stress

Eyal Tamary, Vladimir Kiss, Reinat Nevo, Zach Adam, Gábor Bernát, Sascha Rexroth, Matthias Rögner, Ziv Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure of cyanobacterial or red algal cells to high light has been proposed to lead to excitonic decoupling of the phycobilisome antennae (PBSs) from the reaction centers. Here we show that excitonic decoupling of PBSs of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is induced by strong light at wavelengths that excite either phycobilin or chlorophyll pigments. We further show that decoupling is generally followed by disassembly of the antenna complexes and/or their detachment from the thylakoid membrane. Based on a previously proposed mechanism, we suggest that local heat transients generated in the PBSs by non-radiative energy dissipation lead to alterations in thermo-labile elements, likely in certain rod and core linker polypeptides. These alterations disrupt the transfer of excitation energy within and from the PBSs and destabilize the antenna complexes and/or promote their dissociation from the reaction centers and from the thylakoid membranes. Possible implications of the aforementioned alterations to adaptation of cyanobacteria to light and other environmental stresses are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Energetic decoupling
  • Energy transfer
  • FRAP
  • Photoprotection
  • Phycobilisomes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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